Subject:      8X: The monster that ate the budget
From:         thomsona@netcom.com (Allen Thomson)
Date:         1995/10/07
Message-Id:   <thomsonaDG3rKs.93r@netcom.com>
Newsgroups:   sci.space.policy,alt.war,alt.politics.org.cia

The Age of Giants is not over (unfortunately):
 
   U.S. Launches Costly Overhaul of Spy Satellites
   Los Angeles Times, September 28, 1995
   By James Risen and Ralph Vartabedian
   [EXCERPTS]
   
       The United States is developing a new, highly flexible 
   series of satellites, code-named 8X, t[o] provide... vastly 
   expanded photographic coverage... The 8X will be a major 
   upgrade of the KH-12, the current spy satellite workhorse, 
   sources said. The 8X, under development by Lockheed Martin 
   Corp., will be a behemoth, weighing as much as 20 tons.. 
   Experts estimated that the 8X modification program could cost 
   as much as $1.5 billion, not including the cost of the $350-
   million Titan IV rocket needed to loft each satellite payload 
   or the elaborate ground equipment required to process the data. 
   
       "One of the biggest criticisms (of the intelligence 
   community) during the Gulf War was the lack of broad-area 
   (photographic) coverage--the military wanted to be able to look 
   at all of Iraq at the same time," said one source. "This is an 
   attempt to deal with that concern for broader coverage by the 
   military and to do it by modifying an existing system without 
   having to develop an all-new satellite." 
   
       Sources said the 8X program has also been the subject of a 
   bitter budget fight between Congress and the intelligence 
   community.  [Former DCI] Woolsey argued that by modifying the 
   current generation of spy satellites into the 8X, the 
   intelligence community could meet the military's demands. But 
   [former SSCI chairman] DeConcini argued that the 8X was a waste 
   of money, especially when there was a backlog of unused spy 
   satellites in storage.